Finland regions

Finland cuts bear hunting quota by a third, 20 fewer licenses in the North – Eye on the Arctic

Cubs under one year old are protected from hunters. Permits to cull 70 bears will be issued for reindeer herding areas in northern Finland, 20 less than last year. ( Pentti Kallinen / Yle )

Finland’s bear population has reached 2,400, but fluctuates as the animals cross the Russian border.

Finland’s bear hunting quota will be cut by around a third this year. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has set the quota for the coming season at just under 350 bears, down from 460 last year. The hunting season extends from August 20 to the end of October.

In recent years, more logging permits have been issued than before in an effort to control bear population growth.

“This goal has now been achieved and future population regulation will focus on stabilizing the bear population size,” the ministry said on Friday.

The Finnish Institute of Natural Resources (Luke) estimates that there are now between 2,250 and 2,400 bears in Finland, twice as many in the early 2000s.

The number rebounded to almost the current level in 2010 and then fell sharply for several years. It has been growing more or less steadily since 2014.

Population levels fluctuate as animals cross borders, primarily the 1,300 kilometer Russian border. The migration of bears across the border has increased the genetic diversity of the population in Finland.

1.5 M€ of reindeer losses

There has long been pressure in Finland to limit the bear population due to predation by livestock, mainly semi-domesticated reindeer.

Last year, around 750 reindeer deaths were attributed to bears, up from around 890 the previous year. The state paid the reindeer herders 1.5 million euros in compensation for losses, as well as much smaller compensation paid for damage to beehives and crops, for example.

The Finnish Wildlife Agency has to decide on the precise allocation of permits.

Permits to cull 70 bears will be issued for reindeer herding areas in northern Finland, 20 less than last year. Most of them will be provided for the Eastern Reindeer Management Area. It includes half a dozen Lapland municipalities along the Russian border as well as Pelkosenniemi.

Mothers and young cubs prohibited

Mothers with cubs and cubs under one year old are protected from hunters. About 63% of the bears killed are male and are generally relatively young. This is partly explained by the fact that many adult males move from eastern Finland to the Russian part before the start of the hunting season.